The legend of Tom Waddle was further embellished during a 34-31 Bears preseason loss to New Orleans Monday night.

It was only an exhibition, but what an exhibition it was for the fairy tale wide receiver turned punt returner and kick holder from Boston College.

The Saints, incidentally, won on Cary Blanchard's 26-yard field goal at the gun, seconds after Bears fans seated in the south end of Soldier Field chanted for the irrepressible Waddle to go in to try and block the kick.

Minutes earlier, Waddle had returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 31.

Waddle, who is being tried as a punt returner more for his sure hands than his breakaway speed, actually dropped Tommy Barnhardt's kick before weaving his way for a TD.

"I will do what they ask me to do. I can't assure you that I will return one for a touchdown once or twice or whatever. But I am pretty confident that I will catch them nine out of 10 times," said Waddle, signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent four years ago before being cut three times and emerging as a starter (55 catches) last season.

"I have spent so much time on the downside of things in the last few years that it is just nice to do something and be appreciated.

"You see an opening, and you run for it. Punt returning is a difficult job. I have a lot of compassion for anyone who goes back there and takes some of those hits. It is an instinctive thing, I guess. If it gives me a paycheck every week, I will learn to like it."

But Waddle wasn't the only Bears player to make a positive statement.

Fourth-year running back Mark Green ran for 55 yards on just six rushes.

Green, in his fourth year out of Notre Dame, is often overlooked in the Bears' backfield assessment. Neal Anderson and Darren Lewis always seem to be the main attractions.

"I am like the guy in the middle," said Green. "People come out and see us play and say: 'Well, how did Neal Anderson do tonight? And how about the new guy?' They skip right over me. I'm used to it now. But I'm here, too."

Rookie quarterback Will Furrer completed 3 of 5 passes for 63 yards and a TD in the entertaining contest witnessed by 53,846 fans.

The Bears roared back from a 31-17 deficit to tie the game at 31 on a 19- yard pass from Furrer to Eric Wright, and Waddle's punt return with just 1:42 left.

Waddle caught his breath momentarily before holding Kevin Butler's tying extra point.

Young tackles Stan Thomas and Troy Auzenne were feeling the heat of the Saints' defense early. Each jumped offside in anticipation of the rush of Pro Bowlers Pat Swilling, Sam Mills and Rickey Jackson.

"It's a lot harder than it looks," said Auzenne, who added that he had butterflies all day anticipating his first pro game. "I have to brush up on all my fundamentals and techniques."

Bears quarterbacks Jim Harbaugh and Paul Justin were sacked a combined three times.

"Stan has a job to do and I am very confident he can do it. We are going to keep getting him better, and Troy Auzenne," said coach Mike Ditka.